Someone once commented on this site that making a the 1/16th scale Balsa Man wasn't creative as others had already done that. It was obviously supposed to be some hot take dis. That was before I turned off comments on this site, but before I turned them off I replied that I agreed with them. I said there was nothing creative about making a scale model of a man like that. The creative aspect was everything else that surrounded the event and everyone else that brought their own bit of creativity and joy to it.

This above all is what I want to impart. It's not about the "Man" it's everything else. Use Balsa Man as inspiration to do what you want. If you want to make your own Balsa Man event on the traditional Saturday of Labor Day Weekend with an "official" Balsa Man, do it! The plans for the Balsa Man (such as they are) are below. If instead you want to do your own thing on your own day, do it! All I hope is that some small part of Balsa Man inspires you!

How To Make A Balsa Man Event


  • Balsa Wood — See list below.
  • Cyanoacrylate Glue
  • X-Acto knife with spare blades
  • (Optional) Scrollsaw — this is really useful for making the ribs and arm rings. It's doable with X-Acto knife, but painful.
  • White paper or fabric for the head
  • Pyro — lighter fluid for a basic burn, puny pyrotechnics if you want to get fancy


  1. Collect your supplies
  2. Get a bunch of friends together for a tiny art build party! Some of whom can help with the Balsa Man, others can do their own thing.
  3. Print out the plans — scaled one-to-one so you can just measure! And the limb rings and ribs file can help cut out the harder curved parts, either with a scroll saw or laser cutter. NOTE: the ribs are always hard to position. They are sized up so when you cut them in half you can size the halves down as needed. Everything else you'll need to just figure out from photos from past Balsa Man builds. That's how the Balsa Man KCrew built it every year so you can too!
  4. Measure twice, cut once!
  5. Build the Man, best in this order:
    1. Build the legs
    2. Build the arms
    3. Build the torso
    4. Build the head
  6. Build the man base
  7. Remember to take photos of the build!
  8. Find a good location
  9. Get everyone together for the main event! Have fun!
  10. Burn it!

Balsa Wood Supplies List

You'll likely need more than this as you might mess up. You'll want more to make a fancy base. Also any extra can be gifted to others to make their own tiny art!

All measurements are in inches.

SectionTypeWxHLengthQuantityTotal Length
headface grid1/16 x 1/1695.5195.5
armstringers1/16 x 1/1610.516168
legstringers1/16 x 3/1617.516280
torsostringers1/16 x 3/168432
TOTAL1/16 x 3/16575.5
legbone1/2 x 1/224248 (+ slop)
torsospine1/2 x 1/212.5112.5 (+ slop)
TOTAL1/2 x 1/260.5
rings & ellipsisall3/16 deep board4-6 boards
torsohip3/16 x 1/26.5426
torsolower waist3/16 x 1/27428
torsoshoulder3/16 x 1/28216
TOTAL3/16 x 1/270
armstruts3/16 x 3/161.5812
armstruts3/16 x 3/162816
armstruts3/16 x 3/161.75814
armstruts3/16 x 3/161.75814
armstruts3/16 x 3/161.25810
headjaw3/16 x 3/16248
headsides3/16 x 3/163412
headsupport3/16 x 3/164416
headtop3/16 x 3/162.75411
legstruts3/16 x 3/161.75814
legstruts3/16 x 3/161.875 (1 7/8)815
legstruts3/16 x 3/162816
legstruts3/16 x 3/162.25818
legstruts3/16 x 3/162.75822
legstruts3/16 x 3/163824
legstruts3/16 x 3/163.25826
legstruts3/16 x 3/163.25826
torsoornaments3/16 x 3/163.51035
torsostruts3/16 x 3/164.7529.5
torsostruts3/16 x 3/164.7529.5
torsostruts3/16 x 3/164.6875 (4 11/16)29.375
torsostruts3/16 x 3/164.9375 (4 15/16)29.875
torsostruts3/16 x 3/165.5625 (5 9/16)211.125
torsostruts3/16 x 3/1641456
TOTAL3/16 x 3/16415
torsowaist3/16 x 3/85.5422
armbone3/8 x 3/812224 (+ slop)